Friday, October 18, 2013

The Art of Eating a Little Crow (with a lengthy explanation of personal past history)

"She also co-teaches in a variety of subject areas that are reading heavy. Translation:  You won't find her in a tracksuit bouncing basketballs."

Well, I would like to apologize for this  blooper from my last post (October 14, "The Day Job: A Little Vent").  A dear co-worker, a physical  education teacher (and an English minor, I might add, and a Prairie Grlz reader...) reminded me that reading and writing are most certainly a part of the physical education curriculum in our school district.  And I know this, and I am willing to run a few laps in penance, but I don't think they do that in phy ed any more. Physical education classes have risen to a higher plane than those of my youth.  I come from a time that the "gym" grade was largely determined by the number of times your gym suit was laundered during the quarter.  I couldn't throw a free throw to save my life, but my gym suit was spanky clean.  Cleanliness saved my GPA, certainly not my athletic prowess.  

This was the gym suit of my teens.  Seriously, this is what we had to wear!  No wonder I have an aversion to sporting equipment of any type.  Those are bloomer-like legs.  I think this was suppose to keep the boys, who were locked up in another gymnasium far away, from looking up our shorts. We coupled this with white anklets and white Keds. The look was stunning.  No wonder so many women of my generation suffer from body image issues.  Being beanpole skinny and giraffe tall, my suit lacked length for my torso.  Oh the binding discomfort when we were forced to touch our toes or do jumping jacks.

We were required to have our last names written above the breast pocket like we were in the military.  Trying to show off my home economics skills, I embroidered mine, and my suit was promptly stolen the first week of school.  I think the pink embroidery floss and curly script made me an easy target. 

When you didn't have a suit, you had to go to the lost and found and wear whatever rag was available.  There were a few castoff suits, with broken snaps right at the waist so that your pale stomach would peek out (Belly would probably work better here, but I have always hated that word.).  And these suits, not having rightful owners,  did not conform to the cleanliness doctrine that was espoused by our teachers. The underarms were so stiff that they provided you with an instant shave.  I had to wear one of these for several weeks until my suit was finally discovered crammed behind a toilet in the girls' locker room. You can bet that it was laundered sixteen times before it touched my body again. 

Each gym class started with the girls (Remember, the boys were locked far away so that our presence didn't drive them to immoral acts.) sitting in neat rows called "squads."  The teacher would call out the row number and each of us would bark out our last name. Again, this was very militaristic, which seemed a bit odd since we were in the middle of the protests over the Vietnam War.  

Yes, the showers at Central Junior High
were just this bad.
Gym class ended with us lining up to run though the gang showers with our towels held high over our heads.  The only way to achieve extra credit (and boy did I need that with my ball handling skills) was to make multiple runs through the showers.  You got one point per run. Once I made enough  to make-up for a less than stellar performance on both the balance beam and the uneven parallel bars.  That may have been a school record.

How I could go on with this sad tale.  I have yet to describe the swimsuits--cottony fabric with a little panel so any evidence of a crotch was covered.  They grew six sizes in the water and became so water-logged that it was difficult to exit the pool.  The lives that were lost due to those suits.  No, I won't tell you about water ballet (shudder), and the two sports that I was not allowed to participate in after a couple of unfortunate incidents.  Let's just say one involved bouncing a bowling ball into the next lane and causing costly damage to the wood floor and the other may have required stitches after the golf ball hit the teacher. 

During my phy ed days I would have sold my soul to be allowed to write a paragraph of poetic prose describing field hockey to supplement my poor showing on the actual field.  Reading an article on the finer points of volleyball would have served me well (pun intended).  Taking a written test on scoring in tennis would have filled my heart with far more love (oops, did it again) than actually trying to hit that ball with the racket.  Reading and writing was something I could do without endangering my life and the lives of others.   

Dear phy ed teachers of today, I do appreciate you and thank you for including literacy in your curriculum and providing a glimmer of hope to those, like me, who wince at the sight of a bat and have nightmares that include cleats and shuttlecocks. 

Prairie Sherry    

1 comment:

  1. Oh god...not those gym, suits, though in fairness ours didn't have the bloomer bottoms, just regular bottoms. In Jr. High we wore flamingo colored ones and they had to be ironed. In high school we got the blue ones that were non-iron and had never even sat next to a cotton boll on the shelf. Those came with iron on yellow letters for your name. My last name had 13 letters. Oy. Actually, though PE got a little fun in college. (Yes, we had a requirement of three terms of PE, thankyouverymuch.) I selected Archery, Badminton and Tennis. You got to ride a rickety bus to the gym. And then, mercifully, it was over.